The 2016 Road Trip begins
Well, we have to start somewhere and this time it was at Heathrow on Monday night. We need no persuasion to stay over when we have an early check in and on this occasion, it gave us chance to catch up with Amy and Edward over dinner at Bibendum. They’re excited at the prospect of moving into their new apartment next week and it was lovely as always to share their company.
Our flight was at 8.30am, so it was a really early start this morning.
I split my stuff into two cases, which meant record lows when it came to the scales!
Heathrow was as bustling as ever though, in spite of the early hour.
Our 7 hour flight was trouble free and uneventful I’m glad to say and we were super comfortable upstairs in a newly refurbished 747. I’d already looked at the entertainment schedule and decided what I was going to watch: Brooklyn which I’ve been wanting to see since I read the book and Room, about which I was less certain but rather curious. I enjoyed both, though Brooklyn got my favourite vote. I caught up with a few journal notes, listened to a couple of Desert Island Discs and might have had the odd snooze now and again as well
No problems till we got to JFK then, where the queue for passport control was incredibly long. The arrival of a couple of large plane-loads of people soon overwhelms the system and waiting in an area beyond the sight of the immigration hall itself, we feared it could be hours before we got through. In the event, once we started to move it all progressed fairly quickly and within the hour we were jumping in a yellow taxi and heading for Manhattan.
With my usual New York soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkel playing in my head, we were soon within sight of our mid-town destination.
Our super-trendy hotel (with a glass wardrobe) is well situated, so after a quick wash and brush up, we wasted no time at all in getting out and getting on.
A sunny afternoon on Fifth Avenue awaited us!
Of course, the museum was busy, but in spite of that it was fairly cool and we wasted no time in heading straight for the exhibition we’d come to see: Manus x Machina – Fashion in the Age of Technology.
From the first exhibit we saw, we were enchanted. This was a large and very well staged exhibition and even though there were lots of visitors, there was still room to get a good look at every single item.
I couldn’t begin to say which was my favourite at this stage, though a few will certainly percolate to the top of my list before long. Here’s a couple of rather intriguing dresses, though.
These particular designs were created from polyurethane gel and iron filings. Yes, I know – or rather, no, I don’t! I have no idea, in fact.
Most designs were very wearable if one had a 14 inch waist (or thereabouts) but this one by Hussein Chalayan took the biscuit for being totally impractical. It was described as a “remote control” dress with Swarovski crystals and rear entry panels with motorised hinges. Sure enough, a short video alongside showed how the dress was accessed and remotely controlled and how the little spring loaded “pollen” could be activated at the touch of a button.
The centrepiece was this wedding gown, designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Made in scuba nylon, the dress itself was pretty solid, but it was the train which caught the eye.
This was the image on the posters, the one which many had come to see. From a distance, it appeared as a kind of brocade, but a closer look revealed a clearer digital design.
Lagerfeld himself drew the brocade design which was then digitised and subsequently completed using a mix of hand and machine techniques. The rhinestones were applied using a heat technique, the gold painting done by hand and the pearls and gemstones sewn by hand. There was no record of how many hours/days/weeks this took, but it must have been phenomenal.
The lower level of the exhibition was focused on the different “metiers”. Here, it’s the leatherworkers whose skills were to the fore.
This laser cut and exquisitely free machine stitched jacket was one of my favourite pieces for a short time. I think it’s by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.
But this dress and coat by John Galliano for Dior was shown opposite and for me, at least, it pipped the jacket to the top of the list for a while. Again, it’s laser cut leather, machine stitched.
Well, I didn’t say everything was wearable, did I? I think we’re talking about the pleaters here whose skills were displayed in a rather more familiar format with Issy Miyake’s work.
Just around the corner stood four Chanel suits. Taking a closer look, the cream boucle wool design looked pretty familiar, styled in the traditional manner.
A closer look at the others revealed something interesting, though.
Layers of fabric trapped behind this mesh-type surface which had been 3D printed. who’d have thought it? Even the “quilted” surface had been engineered to be formed by means of a digital design and 3D printer. So clever. Again, Karl Lagerfeld had a hand in the concept which was completely hand finished and as he stated “the perfect marriage of hand and machine”.
There were rather more obvious examples of 3D printed “garments” too.
But what I liked most about the show was the juxtaposition of contemporary, machine made dresses such as the two McQueen designs above, alongside the 1920’s “presentation gown”. What a fascinating show! I hope it travels and finds its way to London, where I would be there again to take another look, for sure.
Before we left the museum, we took a quick look at four of Turner’s masterpieces; in this case his whaling pictures. Three normally reside in Tate Britain, the fourth being at home here in the Met. But for a short time, the four are being shown together, alongside some sketches and other related work which inspired Herman Melville’s writing. But by now we were flagging a little and the thought of finding somewhere for a sit down and a drink suddenly became very appealing indeed.
So we left the crowds in the museum and followed Jordi’s lead to one of her favourite Upper East Side watering holes: Demarchelier . Here we found entertaining company, interesting conversation and some excellent cocktails which set us up nicely for dinner at Cabana a bit later.
But by the time we’d finished dinner, we knew we simply had to give in. We’d tried really hard not to work out how long we’d been going today but right now it felt long enough. We said our goodbyes to our sweet friend, promised not to leave it so long before we return and came back to our super-cool room, where I’ve kept myself going an extra hour or so by blogging.
I’m giving in now!